I got up to find J in his swim shorts already doing battle with the elements and dressed for wet play. He looked mildly wild and unhinged, thorns in his hair and mud across his cheek, eyes wide, and we commenced the guy-rope tethering, thorn dancing, mud splashing and tarp re-jigging hooha of the morning previous. It was, again, intense. And hysterical. And we managed to also eat scrambled eggs, make tea and coffee, arrange a playdate, and make chocolate granola, so it was a lot mellower than it might sound. Life goes on, even when there’s little more than an overgrown carrier bag separating you from a tropical storm.

J then proceeded to make a boat. Not unlike Noah in similar such meteorological circumstances.

This is the second time that he has tried out this particular design of boat. The first we made after a trip to the Historical Museum of Culebra, where we had seen a small canoe made from a piece of roofing tin, that islanders used to use (not long ago, this past generation) to race between the small Cays around the island. The design is simple and the boat can be put together using the roofing tin, a pair of tin snips, a two-by-four, a few screws, a garden hose and some epoxy, in a couple of hours.

The first attempt produced a boat for The Z-Man. It took on too much water for J to be able to do much, but he could balance it and row a couple of metres before it took on too much water and the joy-ride aborted. Z was always highly resentful of his father taking such liberties with his boat, so the fact that J was relegated to ship’s mate and boat hand fitted in pretty well with the power paradigm of the moment. Z had a blast deliberately capsizing it, fishing off the side and being pushed around by his father behind, who was holding on to keep it balanced and propelling it forward by swimming whilst wearing flippers.

Carrying the boat down to the beach, with it poised bulkily across the back of our bike trailer, garnered a bit of attention, especially from locals,who were smilingly asking us whether the thing would float and, I like to think, were mildly imprused (that cross between impressed and amused) by a couple of newcomers sporting such a relic.

photo 1(4)Well, yes, it did float. But the tin canoe mark 2, today’s attempt at an improvement on the original, the larger version, did not. It sank. Instantly in fact, it was quite something to watch. In got J, a touch less confident now that we were actually down by the shore, beginning to wonder about the seaworthiness of this new vessel; and down went J, boom – under and down. To the bottom. It took just a second. The only visual evidence that there had ever been a boat there at all was about two centimeters of wood at the stern pointing up out of the water.

J rose from the water, broad grin, and proclaimed, ‘I hereby christen this boat – Planter’.

And here she is. Planted. Featuring, from left to right: thyme, parsley, rosemary, basil, lemongrass, oregano, basil, dill, mint, sage, and savory.


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